Knowing More About Tooth Fillings

Nov 01, 2020

Dental fillings help restore damaged teeth due to decay. With a dental filling, the dentist can help restore the shape, functionality, and eliminate bacteria in the cavities, reducing the risk for a root canal infection.

When choosing your fillings, your dentist will consider several factors. Some of the factors include:

  • The location of the tooth that requires a dental filling in your mouth
  • The extent of the repair
  • Whether you are allergic to any filling material

How Do Tooth Fillings Work?

When you have a cavity due to tooth decay, bacteria multiply within the hole, thus causing its progression. Also, a chipped tooth can house toxic bacteria that damage your enamel and ends up in the root canal if left untreated. However, a dental filling can prevent the progression of the infection.

During the procedure, your dentist removes any signs of bacteria from the cavity and clean it. The cleaning prevents further infections but does not restore the shape and functionality of the tooth. In this case, that is where tooth fillings come in.

Once the dentist inserts the filling on the cavity caused by tooth decay, your tooth’s chewing or biting ability is restored. Since dental cavities and chips alter the shape of your tooth, the dental filling can restore it to match the natural teeth.

Types of Tooth Fillings

At Arizona Family Dentistry, our dentist chooses your tooth fillings depending on your tooth’s condition. The types of tooth fillings vary depending on the material. Some of the types of tooth fillings include:

  • Composite resin fillings. Composite tooth fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles that match the natural color of your teeth. Therefore, composite fillings would be the best option for filling your front teeth. Also, the fillings are placed directly, reducing the need for much drilling.
  • Amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are a mixture of mercury and silver. Therefore, the amalgam fillings don’t match the natural color of your teeth. Since the amalgam fillings are strong and durable, your dentist will recommend them for a permanent tooth at the back of the mouth.
  • Gold fillings. Such tooth fillings are durable and last longer than any other type of fillings. However, gold fillings are more expensive than any other type of tooth fillings. Gold fillings would be suitable for broken teeth and large cavities.
  • Ceramic fillings. Porcelain or ceramic fillings mimic the natural color of your teeth. Therefore, the ceramic fillings are suitable for front teeth. The ceramic fillings are brittle but stain-resistant. If your gums are sensitive to metals, porcelain fillings would be a good option since they are biocompatible.

Tooth Filling Placement Procedure

The first step of the procedure involves evaluating the teeth to help create the best treatment plan. During the evaluation, your dentist can use a dental probe to detect affected areas of the teeth. Also, the dentist can take dental x-rays to check for infections on the root canal. The x-ray can also help identify the precise information of tooth decay.

Next, the dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth. The dentist will then prepare the tooth for restoration. The preparation involves using a laser or a handheld device to remove the damaged parts of your tooth.

The dentist will use an acid gel to cleanse the cavities removing bacteria and debris left. Finally, the dentist will apply the filling material and polishing it. When placing a composite filling, you might need to isolate the tooth using a dental dam to ensure it doesn’t come into contact with moisture.

After the placement procedure, your dentist will recommend follow-up appointments to ensure your dental filling is intact. A loose filling can cause the entry of bacteria into the cavity, thus the need for a root canal. Worst case scenario, your tooth might need an extraction.

Maintenance and Care for a Dental Filling

Some tooth fillings last up to 20 years. However, if not taken care of, a tooth filling can detach from the enamel or become loose. Therefore, you should take care of your tooth filling, just like your teeth. Below are the care tips for your tooth fillings:

  • Good oral hygiene
  • Regular dental exams
  • Avoid biting down hard or chewing hard objects
  • Since some fillings can get stained, avoid smoking
  • Wear a protective mouthguard when playing contact sports
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